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Signum Auctoritatis: Changing Signs Of Carolingian Authority

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Chapter Summary

The use of graphic signs in the indirect communication of Carolingian authority varied depending on different media and their corresponding audiences: elaborated signs in royal charters were addressed primarily to aristocracy, highly symbolic signs in manuscripts communicated predominantly to clergy, and signs on coins were simplified to make them accessible to as broad an audience as possible. The graphic signs played an important role in the indirect communication of authority. Placed on charters and coins, they addressed different audiences and were affected by them as much as by the name of authority. The royal monogram became an arcane sign of an anonymous ruler equated with biblical figures who possessed similar monograms. The king?s human body had a particular signature used in diplomas addressed to the elite who maintained personal relations with him. The king?s sacred body, given to him through God?s grace, had the generalizing monogrammatic sign.

Keywords: Carolingian authority; Carolingian coinage; communication; graphic signs; royal monogram; symbolic signs



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